The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version
Silas Huntly Rescued From The Waves
OCTOBER 30. -- At the first gleam of daylight we eagerly scanned the southern and
western horizons, but the morn- ing mists limited our view. Land was nowhere to be
seen. The tide was now almost at its lowest ebb, and the color of the few peaks of rock
that jutted up around us showed that the reef on which we had stranded was of basaltic
formation. There were now only about six feet of water around the Chancellor, though
with a full freight she draws about fifteen. It was remarkable how far she had been
carried on to the shelf of rock, but the number of times that she had touched the bottom
before she finally ran aground left us no doubt that she had been lifted up and borne
along on the top of an enormous wave. She now lies with her stern considerably higher
than her bows, a position which renders walking upon the deck anything but an easy
matter, moreover as the tide receded she heeled over so much to lar- board that at one
time Curtis feared she would altogether capsize; that fear, however, since the tide has
reached its lowest mark, has happily proved groundless.
At six o'clock some violent blows were felt against the ship's side, and at the same time a
voice was distinguished, shouting loudly, "Curtis! Curtis!" Following the direc- tion of
the cries we saw that the broken mizzen-mast was being washed against the vessel, and in
the dusky morning twilight we could make out the figure of a man clinging to the rigging.
Curtis, at the peril of his life, hastened to bring the man on board. It proved to be none
other than Silas Huntly, who, after being carried overboard with the mast, had thus,
almost by a miracle, escaped a watery grave. Without a word of thanks to his deliverer,
the ex-captain, passive, like an automaton, passed on and took his seat in the most
secluded corner of the poop. The broken mizzen may, perhaps, be of service to us at
some future time, and with that idea it has been rescued from the waves and lashed
securely to the stern.
By this time it was light enough to see for a distance of three miles round; but as yet
nothing could be discerned to make us think that we were near a coast. The line of
breakers ran for about a mile from southwest to northeast, and two hundred fathoms to
the north of the ship an ir- regular mass of rocks formed a small islet. This islet rose
about fifty feet above the sea, and was consequently above the level of the highest tides;
while a sort of causeway, available at low water, would enable us to reach the island, if
necessity required. But there the reef ended; beyond it the sea again resumed its somber
hue, betokening deep water. In all probability, then, this was a solitary shoal, unattached
to a shore, and the gloom of a bitter disappoint- ment began to weigh upon our spirits.
In another hour the mists had totally disappeared, and it was broad daylight. I and M.
Letourneur stood watching Curtis as he continued eagerly to scan the western horizon.
Astonishment was written on his countenance; to him it appeared perfectly incredible
that, after our course for so long had been due south from the Bermudas, no land should
be in sight. But not a speck, however minute, broke the clearly-defined line that joined
sea and sky. After a time Curtis made his way along the netting to the shrouds, and
swung himself quickly up to the top of the mainmast. For several minutes he remained